reason4thehope

Thinking about life, faith and the world.

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Yielding the Floor

The parable of the talents, as depicted in a 1...

“And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground.” – Matthew 25:25 NIV

When Jesus told His parable of the talents, it was literally about money, but it’s about much more than that. God wires each of us to do something well. When we understand our talents in this way, we put pride firmly in its place. But we can still bury our talents in the modern sense as surely as a shoe box full of cash, and sometimes the motivation is a counterfeit humility. I can speak from experience.

God wired me to write.  Early on, I dreamed of success and fame as a novelist or columnist. Teachers, classmates, editors and colleagues over the years have encouraged me to pursue writing and stay with it.

In college, I chose newspapers to launch me to writing stardom. My senior internship at a small daily turned into a job after graduation, and soon enough I moved on to a larger paper. But it was a zombie career for me, before I or anyone else knew it.

My writing was hiding traits that in time would have torpedoed my newspaper ambitions: I was too shy to cultivate the vital journalistic skill of schmoozing. My discomfort in bars was palpable. And intruding on people in their tragedies felt like a personal violation, not just a necessary stop on the way to a compelling story. (Trust me, most reporters would say the same on that last point.)

With all of this working against me, eventually I would have been tucked in a corner to write lovingly polished fluff, until I became an unaffordable luxury amid newspapers’ deepening death spiral. Mercifully, a layoff at the second paper put me out of the business before my vulnerabilities began to show, and long before the industry sank to its current, miserable state. Despite my best efforts after the layoff, I never was able to return. Instead I landed in a quieter corner of publishing, still writing and editing, but without the passion I might have brought to other work.

There I have been for 22 years, while outside the office, life happened – richer, poorer, sickness, health and all the rest. At times the nagging thought would surface that I ought to be serving God more directly with my talent.

Something was holding me back. As I looked at what already was written for and about God, I couldn’t get past a little volume called the Bible. With that in circulation, what could I possibly add to the literature of faith? It was a prideful question dressed up as humility. The part of me that still dreamed of renown wanted to write things for God that reflected glory back on me. As long as I was out to produce “literature,” I had writer’s block when it came to the spiritual realm.

A few years ago, life started to intensify, dragging me out of my cocoon to do things that didn’t come naturally, and to face challenges I hadn’t expected. In the midst of it all, God kept equipping me “for such a time as this.” And in between catching life’s knuckleballs, I found myself thinking more, and stretching that thinking.

Only recently have I really grasped what God did. I believe He worked me into a place where he could teach me things I never would have found through my own intelligence or on my own terms. Thoughts and ideas piled up, looking for a way out, and earlier this year, reason4thehope was born.

The funny thing is, only a handful of people can connect this blog with my real name. Exactly one is an official “follower.” God led me to a forum that allows me to write about what He’s taught me – but insulates me from the acclaim I once coveted. I now feel the paradoxical need to get my writing out of the way; I strip it down, lest anyone miss the point because they’ve stopped to admire a clever turn of phrase. It’s a good habit in writing anyway, but it’s also a humbling exercise in opening the channel so God can get through.

You may have a talent that you’ve confined to your workplace, or reserved for your own amusement or relaxation. You may dream of one day breaking out and dazzling the world with your ability. And maybe part of you knows you should be giving it to God. Your work for Him doesn’t have to mark you for the Hall of Fame in whatever it is you do. It just has to be what God chooses, equips and positions you to do, “for such a time as this.”

In Congress, when one member wants to speak out of turn in a debate, another has to yield the floor. That time comes out of the yielding member’s allotted minutes. In the deliberations of life, if you belong to God, you share your seat with Him. It’s always and never His turn. He deserves the first word, the last word and every word in between. But He doesn’t force His way into the discussion, and He can’t speak if you’re too busy being seen and heard. Before He can express Himself through the voice of your talents, you must yield the floor to Him.

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